Louis Berger scam: Goa CM agrees to CBI probe

Panaji, July 27 (IANS) Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Monday agreed to ruling legislators’ demand for ensuring a CBI probe into the Louis Berger international bribery scam.

Parsekar also said the ongoing Louis Berger projects in the state will continue despite the accusation that officials of the firm had bribed a Goa minister and officials $976,630 in bribes.

The alleged bribe was given to secure implementation rights for the $300 million dollar water and sewerage project in Goa funded by the Japan International Co-Operation Agency (JICA).

“I wish to assure Goans that those who have looted the state treasury will be brought to book. I accept the requests of my fellow MLAs to start a CBI probe (in the Louis Berger bribery scam),” Parsekar said.

He was speaking on the first day of the Monsoon session of the Goa legislative assembly.

The Goa Police Crime Branch has already registered a First Information Report into the scam, in which former chief minister Digambar Kamat and former Public Works Department minister Digambar Kamat are allegedly involved, as alleged by the ruling BJP.

Both Alemao as well as Kamat have rejected the allegation.

“It is the responsibility of the state police and state government to probe what happened here,” Parsekar said, justifying his initial flip flop from a CBI probe to a probe by the Crime Branch.

Top officials of Louis Berger have already pleaded guilty to offering bribes of $3.9 million to secure contracts in countries like India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kuwait.

While the settlement announced by the US Justice Department did not identify the politicians and officials who were offered bribes, the documents revealed that $976,630 was paid in bribes during 2009-2010 to a Goa minister and other officials.

Louis Berger was part of a consortium that eventually won a contract to execute a multi-billion dollar water and sewerage project in Goa funded by the Japan International Co-Operation Agency (JICA).

Louis Berger in an official communication on Friday maintained that the act of bribery was committed by rogue company officials, which had come to the fore during an internal enquiry conducted by the New Jersey-based consultancy firm.

Parsekar also said there will be “no injustice” meted out to the two existing Louis Berger projects, adding that in another case of impropriety by the erstwhile Congress-led coalition government, Louis Berger had been paid Rs.4.75 crore for a sealink project which was a non-starter.

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